“Facebook will be fine,” Recode journalists wrote, paraphrasing what Mark Zuckerberg had said during a conference call with reporters on April 4.
“I don’t think there’s been any meaningful impact that we’ve observed,” Facebook co-founder and CEO said.
This does not seem to be the case. Even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit the headlines, eMarketer, a market research company, estimated that Facebook will lose 2 million users ages 24 and younger this year.
A new survey by Creative Strategies, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley, shows that the Cambridge Analytica incident may have significantly accelerated the social network’s demise. Approximately 76 percent of surveyed Americans are more or less aware of the data breach.
The #DeleteFacebook campaign seems to have had at least some impact, Creative Strategies’ principal analyst Carolina Milanesi wrote. Creative Strategies ran a study across 1,000 Americans representative of the U.S. population in age and gender. The first thing researchers did was establish awareness. Thirty-nine percent of surveyed Americans said to be very aware of the scandal, and 37 percent said to be somewhat aware. Twenty-eight percent of interviewed individuals never trusted Mark Zuckerberg’s social network to begin with.
Forty-one percent of surveyed Americans said they are somewhat concerned about what Facebook is doing with their private data, and 36 percent said they are very concerned.
This shift in perception seems to have influenced their behavior on the social network, perhaps more than anything else: 31 percent of panelists changed their settings, 39 percent said to be more careful about what they share and post, 35 percent said to be using Facebook less than they used to, and 21 percent said they are planning to use the social network much less in the future. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some panelists used the free format comment section to point out that they will use Facebook to look at what people post without engaging with the content.
As the firm’s principal analyst pointed out, it seems that users are not asking for more tools to manage their settings. They are, instead, asking for more transparency. Forty-one percent of survey participants would like to gain a better understanding of what data is shared, and another 40 percent would like to be able to exercise the power to decide whether or not to share personal data. Better management of what Creative Strategies defines as “toxic content” would, apparently, also help. This seems to be an issue women are more concerned with: 49 percent of surveyed women and 31 percent of male panelists would like Facebook to do something about toxic content.
Creative Strategies concluded the following.
“Implementing changes to the platform so that privacy could be better protected is not trivial when it impacts the core business model. Some of the discussion in Washington was pointing to the monopoly Facebook has which could be the biggest factor in determining how forgiving users will be. What is clear, however, is that the size Facebook has reached makes this a global issue, not just a US issue.”
“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in Facebook’s S-1 filing.
Perhaps that is why 53 percent of Creative Strategies’ panelists use the social network to keep in touch with friends and family who don’t live nearby. On the other hand, 40 percent of those who have been on Facebook for more than seven years wish it could go back to how it was.